In early 1940, Eisenhower was briefly stationed at Ft. Ord, California before receiving a more permanent assignment in Ft. Lewis, Washington. For the next two years, Eisenhower's assignments gave him many opportunities to exercise his natural leadership talents. The experience and skills he had aquired over twenty-five years served him very well. In June 1941, Colonel Eisenhower was transferred to Ft. Sam Houston. Here he served as Chief of Staff for the Third Army, under General Walter Krueger. Eisenhower received national attention for his bold leadership in the Louisiana Maneuvers. Eisenhower was promoted to brigadier general a few months before the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, an event that served as the catalyst for the United States' entry into World War II.
Eisenhower was then transferred to the War Plans Division in Washington, DC, where Army Chief of Staff George Marshall tested his abilities. Marshall was impressed with Eisenhower's thinking, organizational and people skills, and as a result, he was promoted to Major General by March of 1942. In May, Eisenhower arrived in England on a special mission to build cooperation among the Allies as Commanding General of the European Theater. So began his rapid rise in rank and fame. By November, he was named Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces in North Africa, and carried out Operation Torch. In 1943, Eisenhower had his second test as Commander of the Allied Forces that invaded Sicily and Italy. In December 1943, Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, and the planning of Operation Overlord began. Eisenhower was tasked with the challenge of bringing together land, sea, and air forces that culminated in the D-Day invasion of the European continent.
D-Day, June 6, 1944, was the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. In December of that year, Eisenhower earned his fifth star when he was promoted to the rank of General of the Army. When Germany surrendered in May 1945, Eisenhower was appointed Military Governor of the US Occupied Zone. By then, Dwight D. Eisenhower had earned the respect, admiration, and affection of people around the world and was treated as an international celebrity. Eisenhower quickly became the centerpiece of speeches, grand parades, and throngs of admirers as grateful nations throughout Europe honored him. In June of 1945, Eisenhower returned to a hometown hero's welcome in Abilene, Kansas.
In November 1945, Eisenhower was selected as Chief of Staff of the United States Army. On February 7, 1948, he resigned from the Army to serve as President of Columbia University. At President Truman's request in 1950, Eisenhower took a leave of absence from Columbia University to command the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Here he labored with Allied nations to build an organization around the idea of "concerted, collective, unified action." Eisenhower took a nearly impossible task and turned his vision for Europe and the United States into a reality. During this time, a grassroots effort took shape to persuade Eisenhower to run for President. The Draft Eisenhower Movement swelled to a crescendo that he could no longer ignore. In preparation for what was to come, Eisenhower retired from active service, resigned his commission, and headed home to Abilene to formally announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.